Recent articles in Medium and Sightline highlighted the findings of Associate Professor of Urban Planning Adam Millard-Ball’s new research on the relationship between parking and driving in cities. While many cities have been designed under the assumption that the urban environment should accommodate people’s desire to drive, researchers led by Millard-Ball found that that assumption is backward. “Increased parking causes more car ownership and more driving while reducing transit use,” the team concluded, noting that “buildings with at least one parking space per unit have more than twice the car ownership rate of buildings that have no parking.” The Sightline piece cited Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup’s observation that parking spaces are a “fertility drug for cars.” Furthermore, the research team found no correlation between parking supply and employment status, indicating that buildings with less parking do not limit the job prospects of their occupants.
In an interview with ITS International, Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup shared the key findings of his life’s work on parking and transportation. While most people don’t want to pay for parking, Shoup found that free parking takes up a huge amount of valuable land, and the cost of that land is shifted into higher prices for everything else. He also found that “free parking greatly increases the amount of driving, which congests traffic, pollutes the air and contributes to global warming.” To address these issues, Shoup recommended charging for curb parking, spending parking revenue on public services and removing off-street parking requirements in cities. Shoup believes that “better parking management can improve cities, transportation, the economy and the environment.” His recommendations are seen as a cheap and simple way to increase economic efficiency, protect the environment and promote social justice. “I’m trying to save the world, one parking space at a time,” said Shoup.
Cities of the Future checked in with Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning, to gauge the progress of parking reforms he has long recommended to increase economic efficiency, protect the environment and promote social justice. Shoup favors charging fair-market prices for on-street parking, re-investing revenue in the neighborhoods that generate it, and eliminating the requirement that building developments provide off-street parking. One commonality among cities that have successfully implemented these reforms is that green activists have forged a coalition with merchants and other stakeholders, said Shoup, a noted author and leading researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin. Shoup added that the COVID-19 pandemic has filled streets with bicycles, pedestrians and outdoor restaurants instead of cars, and this has made previously unthinkable parking reforms conceivable and perhaps unavoidable as cities sorely need the money that paid parking can provide.
Canada’s National Post featured the work of Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup in a commentary about Edmonton’s decision to remove all minimum parking requirements from real-estate developments in the city. Renters and homeowners who receive a “free” parking space pay a hidden cost regardless of whether they use the space, he argues. Free parking also encourages people to drive to work instead of considering alternatives such as public transit. After decades of research, Shoup came to the conclusion that all public parking spaces should be metered, ideally from hour-to-hour or minute-to-minute, with the money being used in the neighborhood where it was generated. He has encouraged cities to stop requiring an arbitrary number of free parking spaces, arguing that most urban parking lots show less-than-optimum use. Edmonton will be the first city in Canada to allow builders to use their own judgment in allocating parking to housing units and offices.
Urban Planning Professor Donald Shoup spoke to the Parking Podcast about his recommendations for improving parking in cities. First, he recommended charging a fair market price to use the curb. Parking meters are the exception in most cities. Shoup argued that parking “should be priced so there is never a shortage of parking.” He defined the fair market price as the lowest price a city can charge and still have one or two open curb spaces on every block. Next, he argued that cities should limit off-street parking, or at least remove off-street parking requirements. Shoup’s third recommendation is for cities to dedicate all or some revenue from parking meters to fund additional public services on metered streets, including landscaping, cleanliness and accessibility. He noted that if people know how the meter revenue is being spent to benefit the community, they may be less resistant to paying for parking.
Distinguished Research Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup authored a Bloomberg article recommending the implementation of congestion pricing in Los Angeles. In 2021, Metro will launch a pre-Olympics pilot program consisting of one or two high-occupancy-vehicle toll lanes adjacent to four or five free lanes in each direction. While some are opposed to the idea of paying to drive on highways, Shoup argued that drivers are already paying for congestion in wasted time. The congestion pricing system will allow toll lane users to travel faster and save time and will also benefit public transit riders who will no longer be trapped in buses “immobilized by the congestion that more affluent drivers create.” By reducing fuel consumption, air pollution and carbon emissions and making public transit faster and more reliable, “congestion pricing can improve life for most people who own a car and for all people who do not,” Shoup concluded.
Distinguished Research Professor of Urban Planning Donald Shoup wrote an article for CityLab proposing transit validation as a solution to traffic and congestion at major sporting events. Due to limited bus service and no direct rail connections to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, most of the 62,000 football fans who attended the Super Bowl in Miami Gardens on Sunday arrived by car. While game-day congestion is often seen as part of football tradition, Shoup recommended that sporting venues contract with public transit operators so that all ticket holders can ride buses and trains free on game days. He argued that by arranging fare-free public transit on game days, sporting venues could increase transit ridership, reduce traffic congestion, save energy, and reduce pollution and carbon emissions at a very low cost. Validating transit rides is cheaper than building parking lots or garages for occasional game-day drivers, and it could reduce drunk driving incidents after sporting events, he said.
By Les Dunseith
Fifty years ago, moon landings made headlines, flower children flocked to Woodstock, and college campuses across the nation experienced sometimes-violent protest over issues such as the Vietnam War. As the turbulent ’60s gave way to the 1970s, it was a time of change. Unrest. New ideas.
And amid that backdrop of societal upheaval, the study of urban planning got its start at UCLA.
Donald Shoup, the longtime UCLA professor, was there to see it. Shoup had arrived at UCLA in 1968 as a postdoctoral scholar at the same time as Harvey S. Perloff, the founding dean of the new School of Architecture and Urban Planning, “who was a great figure in urban planning, of course.”
From the beginning, the UCLA planning program under Perloff reflected an activist ethos and a strong interest in equity. “I think that we look very carefully at income distribution and the effects of how any policy would affect lower-income people. We look at how to reverse that pattern,” Shoup said.
Jeffry Carpenter was also studying at UCLA in 1969, and he was among the first group of students to attain a degree in urban planning. “We were supposed to graduate in the summer of ’71. And some of us did,” Carpenter said with a laugh. “And some of us didn’t.”
Carpenter, who would go on to leadership roles as a planner for what was then known as the Southern California Rapid Transit District, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and elsewhere, said graduate programs in planning were rare at the time — almost unprecedented.
“The challenge was that in the field, there was a profession. People were selling planning services, and there were planner positions and there were planning consultants, but there weren’t planning degrees,” Carpenter recalled.
When people like him got those first degrees, “the thought was that it would be something really useful. But the challenge was nobody knew exactly what that was,” Carpenter said. “We were — both the faculty and the students — still feeling our way.”
Nowadays, Shoup is a distinguished research professor whose landmark work on parking reform has had broad impact. He left Westwood in the early 1970s to work at the University of Michigan but returned to UCLA to stay in 1974. A year later, Allan Heskin joined him on the urban planning faculty and continued until he retired as a professor in 2001.
Urban planning with a social conscience is important to Heskin.
“I have a history of being an activist,” said Heskin, who oversaw student admissions for some time. “And I always looked for activist students — people who had done things in the world.”
During his two-and-a-half decades at UCLA, faculty and student planners were active in changing the approach of Los Angeles and other local cities to issues related to land use and housing affordability. UCLA scholars were highly influential in Santa Monica political reform, for example, and Heskin remembers that an early graduate, Gary Squier, “almost single-handedly created the housing department” for the city of Los Angeles. Squier, who died in 2012, became the city’s first housing director in 1990.
“Getting the city of L.A. to take responsibility for housing people in Los Angeles was just a major change,” Heskin recalled. “The city’s policy before the UCLA faculty and students did their thing was to say that housing is a federal responsibility, and the city doesn’t do it, and is not concerned!”
Marsha Brown B.A. ’70, who was a manager in the urban planning program at UCLA from 1980 to 2014, said, “There has always been a history of activism.”
The planning faculty and students “are very passionate about what they believe in — whether it’s housing or traffic or diversity or women’s issues. There’s always been a political bent to it,” Brown said. “The goal was always trying to make cities better for the people who live in them.”
Vinit Mukhija, professor and current chair of Urban Planning at UCLA, has been on the faculty since 2001.
He thinks a willingness to defy expectations has been central to the program’s enduring success.
“We never accepted narrow limits of planning or narrow definitions,” he said. “It’s not just land use and transportation and housing. It is much broader than that.”
Somewhat infamously, the program was abruptly split away from architecture in the 1990s and placed into what became the current Luskin School of Public Affairs. But many aspects of today’s UCLA planning program were allowed to blossom naturally over time.
Shoup sees the willingness of faculty to conduct research with students as colleagues as a key to success.
“I think that’s one of the greatest strengths of our program — the collegial relationships between the faculty and the students, and the cooperative learning.”
As faculty have come and gone, the planning program has changed. For instance, transportation planning became more prominent over time. That importance stands to reason in a city known for gridlock, Brown said. “In Los Angeles, transportation is important, you know.”
Another big change has been the gender balance. Shoup gave a recent example — each year he meets with incoming students and tells them why they might want to focus on transportation planning. In his most-recent meeting, “there were 17 women and one man. The complaint at one time was that there were very few women in transportation. So society has changed.”
And the program itself continues to evolve. In time for the 50th anniversary celebration in May 2020, Mukhija said an expanded partnership with Sciences Po in Paris will have been approved. It will offer dual degrees from both universities in a two-year course of study.
Carpenter, who was there in the beginning, thinks future success in urban planning and society as a whole will hinge on continuing to foster the intellectual curiosity of young people.
“The faculty of the school have a very keen appreciation of the powers of perception and understanding, and more particularly also realizing they need to prepare the students to be effective and assume a role and to grow in that role,” he said. “That’s a very encouraging development.”
A New York Times article on a Manhattan transportation panel’s proposal to do away with free street parking in a 50-block stretch of the Upper West Side cited Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning. New York City has installed miles of bus and bike lanes and banned cars from a major thoroughfare. Next year, it will start charging drivers in Manhattan’s most congested zones. Some drivers feel unfairly targeted, while many transportation advocates say car culture has been unjustly subsidized for too long. Shoup, who has long promoted pricing as a way for cities to manage parking demand, noted that New York is the only major city in the country that does not have some form of residential parking permit. Such permits are meant to let people with cars park near where they live and keep outsiders out.
In an essay for CityLab, Distinguished Research Professor Donald Shoup used vivid examples to lay out his arguments for eliminating parking requirements in urban development. Shoup did the math on the real price of free parking: The average construction cost of a single parking space is $24,000 to $34,000 — more than the net worth of many U.S. households, he found. And nationwide, the area of off-street parking per car (about 900 square feet) is greater than the area of housing per human (about 800 square feet). “A flood of recent research has shown that parking requirements poison our cities, increasing traffic congestion, polluting the air, encouraging sprawl, raising housing costs, degrading urban design, preventing walkability, damaging the economy and penalizing everyone who cannot afford a car,” the urban planning professor wrote. He added, “Simply improving parking policies could be the cheapest, quickest and most politically feasible way to achieve many social, economic and environmental goals.”